I would, as many others would as well, call Neil Peart the greatest drummer that ever lived. However, it was announced that legendary Rush drummer Neil Peart passed away in January 2020 at the age of 67. Rush’s history with Peart extends early into the band but did not start with the band. Peart had been there for and helped them achieve commercial success though. To celebrate the life Neil Peart we have a list of his most recognized performances across Rush’s discography. Being the lyricist of Rush for the majority of their careers earns Neil Peart more recognition. As the mind behind the science-fiction lyrical elements that have also helped make the band what they are known for.
7. A Passage to Bangkok
Side A being entirely 2112: Overture to Grand Finale while Side B features the other 6 songs on the album. Passage to Bangkok is a much more uplifted compared to the song(s) before it. In terms of emotion, this song is strong as any Rush song. The difference in tone between this song and the ones before is certainly interesting to say the least. No matter how different each song is, or how close in tracklisting they show the talent behind Neil Peart.
6. Closer to the Heart
Closer to the Heart comes from Rush’s 1977 album A Farewell to Kings is the follow-up to 2112. The song is another softer song compared to the progressive vibe Rush generally presents listeners. Closer to the Heart features more chilled out harmonies than the typical Rush song. This song is just one of many that while they aren’t highly prominent, the drums are still there. Rush drummer Neil Peart can be heard clearly throughout providing beautiful backing for the rest of the band highlighted here.
Limelight released on, what in my opinion is, the best album to truly showcase some of the best work of each individual member of the band, Moving Pictures. Moving Pictures was a short album with only 7 songs but even with Alex Lifeson’s solo, Neil Peart’s work throughout the song should certainly be recognized. This song starts off with a mellow rock vibe and smooths its way into the trademark Rush style.
4. 2112: Overture
While this song is the titular track of the aforementioned 2112 album, it is only the first 4 minutes and 31 seconds of the extended track. Although it’s only the first 4 minutes of the song, it is one of the bands most well orchestrated songs ever put together leading into the powerhouse that is the rest of 2112. Neil Peart’s beautiful handling of his sticks can be heard not just throughout the album but on this song his skills are clearly highlighted.
3. Tom Sawyer
Tom Sawyer is possibly the most popular song to date from Rush. The song truly features every member of the band in their own way at what could be called a peak for the band in creativity that they never seemed to let go of but have shown in earlier releases as well. Starting with the drums and synth simultaneously, this song immediately pulls you into Peart’s slick cymbal tapping.
2. Spirit of the Radio
One of, if not my favorite Rush songs, Spirit of the Radio is a really fast song by the band featuring them experiencing with reggae more heavily than ever before. While all Rush songs feel experimental Spirit of the Radio is definitely one of the more powerful songs the band has ever composed. Opening with a beautiful riff then a slick progression into a smooth drum pattern from Peart.
Finally, YYZ is at the top of this list because to me this song has always been what I’ve referred to as the staple track of Neil Peart’s abilities as a drummer. The song from beginning to end shows the speed, endurance and extreme versatility behind the drum set to successfully experiment with different genres and still turn into the masterpiece that is the progressive powerhouse that is Rush and the late, great Neil Peart. Although the band’s discography is loading with absolutely genre breaking material, these are the songs I believe truly define the artist’s drumming abilities and his constant growth as the band continued to grow.
Honorable Mentions – Subdivisions & The Trees
Subdivisions in a definite staple within the Rush catalog but it just didn’t fit in as a stand out within their discography to showcase Peart himself but more the band as a whole and how well they really are together as artists.
The Trees is another definitive Rush track but much like Subdivisions I see it as more of a stronger performance by the entire band as apposed to specifically drummer Neil Peart.